Ten 2020 Debut Novels You Won’t Want to Put Down

There are few things more exciting than discovering a brand new author at the start of their journey and looking forward to all the books they have yet to come. To help you discover your next favorite author, here are ten debut novels—a mix of buzzy upcoming releases and books published earlier this year that readers have been loving—for your TBR.

The Comeback by Ella Berman

At the age of 15, Grace had been selected by director Able Yorke to star in a new trilogy. It was a moment that shot Grace to fame overnight, but also left her under Able’s control. The night before the Golden Globes, teen star Grace Turner disappeared. Now 23 and sober, Grace returns to Los Angeles in the hope of moving forward—but then she’s asked to present a lifetime achievement award to the man she’s been avoiding for years. After hiding for so long, Grace feels ready to confront Able and come clean to the world about why she vanished.

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

Feeling the summer heat? Let Elisabeth Thomas’ gothic suspense give you a chill. Located in the Pennsylvania woods, Catherine House is a liberal arts school that boasts a roster of impressive alumni. Those willing to stay for three years—and forgo summers at home, television, music, and their outside contacts—are promised an incredibly bright future. Newly arrived Ines is initially intrigued by Catherine House, only to soon realize there’s something sinister lurking there.

The Roommate by Rosie Danan

East Coast socialite Clara Wheaton leaps at the chance to leave Manhattan to share an apartment with her long-time crush in LA. Unfortunately, when she arrives it’s to learn he’s taking off with his band and she’s now roommates with porn star Josh Darling. After Josh catches Clara watching one of his videos, the two kick off a no-strings-attached fling that soon leads to the idea of co-creating a series of videos about being a better sex partner. All’s going well until Josh’s former employer decides to try to take them down.

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Janella Angeles’ Kingdom of Cards series opener is sure to enchant YA fantasy readers. Kallia longs to headline her own magic act, and is thrilled to hear that Conquering Circus in Glorian is holding a contest to find new talent. Jack, her benefactor at Hellfire House, claims the city is too dangerous and tells her she can’t go. Kallia decides to sneak away anyway to follow her dreams, but when fellow contestants begin to disappear, she fears that Jack is responsible.

Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen

This debut is one that NetGalley staff member Alicia really enjoyed. Caitlin Mullen’s suspenseful novel takes readers to Atlantic City, New Jersey, where women have been disappearing from the boardwalk. After meeting a man searching for his lost niece, psychic Clara begins having troubling visions that she fears are connected to the murders of two Jane Does. Clara seeks help from Lily to find Peaches, a sex worker who disappeared after a reading with Clara.

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso

This Filipino-inspired fantasy is the first in the Chronicles of the Bitch Queen. A nation still fragile from war is split when Queen Talyien’s intended leaves before they’re to begin their rule together. Years later, a failed assassination attempt results in Talyien needing to fight her way back home. Readers are sure to want the second installment upon finishing, and while you wait Villoso’s list of favorite Asian fantasy heroines is a great place to look for new reads.

A House Is a Body by Shruti Swamy

Shruti Swamy is a two-time O. Henry prize winner, making this debut collection of stories highly anticipated. The twelve stories are set within the U.S. and India and explore female characters who are struggling with what’s expected of them.  “Mourners” finds a family learning to manage their grief and move forward, “The Neighbors” takes place during a children’s play date when one mother reveals a dark secret to another, and “Wedding Season” features a couple making their way to Bombay and juggling family and cultural expectations. Short story fans will not want to miss this collection.

The Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel

Earlier this year in an interview with fellow debut authors, Sajni Patel shared the inspiration behind her debut novel and her publishing journey. The Trouble with Hating You is a contemporary romance that follows Liya Thakkar, a biochemical engineer who is tired of her parents trying to set her up. When she blows off Jay Shah, their latest pick for her future beau, she’s chagrined to discover he’s the lawyer hired to save her company from collapse.

Surrender Your Sons by Adam Sass

Adam Sass’ debut follows a gay high school student who is sent to a conversion therapy camp by his religious mother. Nightlight Ministries is located on a remote island, and though escape seems difficult Connor Major is determined to find his way out. As Connor gets to know the rest of the teens on the island, he starts to suspect the camp staff are hiding something. Suddenly he’s no longer simply preparing to escape with his new friends, he’s finding a way to bring the entire camp down.

Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

Natalie Zina Walschots explores the thin line between superheroes and villains in Hench. Anna Tromedlov is caught in a superhero’s crossfire when working as a temp for a low-level villain. Fired from her job and hospitalized from the event, Anna decides to fight back using the closest thing she has to a superpower: her ability to analyze data. Turns out she isn’t the only one hurt by a hero trying to save the day, and she’s prepared to turn the tables on the “good” guys with the help of a baddie known as Leviathan.

Kelly Gallucci

Kelly Gallucci is the Executive Editor of We Are Bookish, where she oversees the editorial content, offers book recommendations, and interviews authors and NetGalley members. When she's not working, Kelly can be found color coordinating her bookshelves, eating Chipotle, and watching way too many baking shows.

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